California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

503B. Affirmative Defense—Psychotherapist’s Warning to Victim and Law Enforcement

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503B.Affirmative Defense—Psychotherapist’s Communication of
Threat to Victim and Law Enforcement
[Name of defendant] is not responsible for [[name of plaintiff]’s injury/the
death of [name of decedent]] if [name of defendant] proves that [he/she]
made reasonable efforts to communicate the threat to [name of plaintiff/
decedent] and to a law enforcement agency.
Derived from former CACI No. 503 April 2007; Revised June 2013
Directions for Use
Read this instruction for a Tarasoff cause of action for professional negligence
against a psychotherapist (Tarasoff v. Regents of Univ. of Cal. (1976) 17 Cal.3d 425
[131 Cal.Rptr. 14, 551 P.2d 334]) if there is a dispute of fact regarding whether the
defendant made reasonable efforts to communicate to the victim and to a law
enforcement agency a threat made by the defendant’s patient. The therapist is
immune from liability under Tarasoff if he or she makes reasonable efforts to
communicate the threat to the victim and to a law enforcement agency. (Civ. Code,
§ 43.92(b).) CACI No. 503A, Psychotherapist’s Duty to Protect Intended Victim
From Patient’s Threat, sets forth the elements of a Tarasoff cause of action if the
defendant is not immune.
In a wrongful death case, insert the name of the decedent victim where applicable.
Sources and Authority
• Limited Psychotherapist Immunity. Civil Code section 43.92(b).
Failure to inform a law enforcement agency concerning a homicidal threat made
by a patient against his work supervisor did not abrogate the “firefighter’s rule”
and, therefore, did not render the psychiatrist liable to a police officer who was
subsequently shot by the patient. (Tilley v. Schulte (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th 79,
85–86 [82 Cal.Rptr.2d 497].)
• “When the communication of the serious threat of physical violence is received
by the therapist from a member of the patient’s immediate family and is shared
for the purpose of facilitating and furthering the patient’s treatment, the fact that
the family member is not technically a ‘patient’ is not crucial to the statute’s
purpose.” (Ewing v. Goldstein (2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 807, 817 [15 Cal.Rptr.3d
Secondary Sources
6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 1050, 1051
32 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 361A, Mental Health and
Mental Disabilities: Judicial Commitment, Health Services and Civil Rights,
§ 361A.93 (Matthew Bender)
11 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 154, Mental Health and Mental
Disabilities, § 154.30 (Matthew Bender)